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June 30, 2011

CRM and Social Media Marketing: Can They Work Together?

By David Sims, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The death of CRM has been predicted many times. It’s still here, due mainly to its adaptability and the fact that it’s built around a core concept, an idea, not technology. Social media won’t kill it off any more than video players have killed off movie theaters, or TV killed off radio, or rock ’n’ roll killed off country music, or the car killed off horse buggies... um, strike that last one.

Now people are wondering if CRM’s approach to marketing is still valid in our social media world. Sigh. Yes, it is. Next question.

Industry observer Stephanie Miller writes that social marketing purists “claim the real value in social marketing is not measurable in the old ways of direct marketing. When I ask how it is measurable, I get a lot of hand-waving and mumbling about participation and brand evangelism.”

Which reminds those of us who remember of the various ROI substitutes put forth for banner ads back in the day. Their ROI was “eyeballs.” No, it was “click-throughs.” Of course it’s really always “sales.”

Miller’s correct when she says yeah yeah, I get all the changes, “but I still need ROI. I still need my social activities to be profitable. I need to demonstrate return on all the hours invested. I need to prove that social conversations turn into leads for my sales team or sales on my e-commerce site. I absolutely need to show my executives how all this social marketing provides meaningful return to my business.”

Amen and amen. Marketing must drive behavior, which must increase sales. And it’s not so abstruse that you can’t get numbers, as Miller demonstrates: “I once listened with rapt attention as a marketing manager from P&G explained to me how they know exactly how many boxes of Tide are purchased as a result of their race car driver winning vs. just placing.”

So where does social marketing fall -- as a general brand awareness activity, like sponsoring a breast cancer screening event, or as a specific driver, like counting clicks?

She has some suggestions for how to track social marketing and tie it to the CRM database:

Identify influential tweeters or bloggers in your database and send them offers intended to engage and motivate them to become brand ambassadors. Track the response of these people.

Use social activity to rank audience members as high, medium, or low value in terms of influence, and then measure the effect of offers, cadence, and frequency on each.

Collect social monikers on intake forms in order to first identify the networks that are most important to your audience and second, to create multi-channel campaigns to those customers willing to be communicated with across channels.

CRM is not too “old-fashioned” to adapt to social network media marketing. Because the bottom line’s still the bottom line.

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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